indicatorSupport through the financial complexities of divorce

Planning to Prosper Post-Divorce

By Orlando Trulli 23 April 2024 3 min read

A plan is the first step to a better tomorrow.

Financial planning is a bit like eating fresh vegetablesmost of us are aware of its importance, but fewer actually practice it.

Fewer still, I suspect, update their financial plans regularly. Since a plan projects your financial situation into the future, it’s only helpful if it accurately reflects your situation as it is today, not yesterday or tomorrow.

And there might be no bigger single change to your financial situation than divorce. Without proper management, a divorce can be an earthquake for anyone’s financial situation.

On the other hand, crafting a strong financial plan during a separationideally before settlement is reachedcan make a tremendous difference in guarding and growing your financial wellness in the next chapter of your life.

These are some of my top tips for making a strong financial plan for anyone going through a divorce.

1: Start now.

The best time to begin work on a financial plan for the new chapter in your life is right after you know divorce is in your future. The second-best time is right now.

This is true whenever “now” falls on the timeline of your divorce. If your current financial situation doesn’t work for you or won’t accomplish your goals, you need to know that today and not tomorrow. Any modifications you can make to your plan today are better than being blindsided by unexpected, unwelcome news at some unknown future date. 

2: Educate yourself.

The power of acting today also applies to financial education. In my experience, in most marriages one partner takes the lead on financial management. If you were the less financially active or savvy partner, you’ll need to empower yourself with knowledge. A strong financial plan will consider:

  • Day-to-day budgeting
  • Retirement planning
  • Investment planning
  • Tax planning
  • Estate planning

Fortunately, none of these concepts are rocket science. A strong financial advisor will be happy to sit down with you, walk you through the ideas, and empower you to learn more on your own.

3: Get help for valuations.

If you were hosting a dinner party and didn’t know how many guests would come, how much food would you cook? Uncertainty makes planning difficult.

This is especially true for financial planning during a divorce, where the true value of assets under division is not always obvious. Accurately assessing the value of something like a pension is tough for most people—there’s a reason the profession of actuary exists.

Evaluating different asset classes also requires different expertise. Assessing a business, for example, is a completely separate field of expertise from assessing a piece of real estate. This can easily put someone going through divorce in a situation where they don’t know what they don’t know. This can lead to costly mistakes.

A strong financial advisor with a focus on helping people going through divorce can act as a quarterback for the team of experts you might need during your separation.

4: Plan for feelings.

Financial planning during divorce needs to go beyond numbers. Specifically, you need to plan for emotions as well.

Some people, especially those going through separations that are amicable or simple, are surprised to hear this. But most divorces take at least three years to go through, and they often run much longer. That’s a lot of time to develop strong feelings that can cloud your better judgment when making decisions for the future.

In my experience, a detailed plan with specific steps helps people going through divorce make decisions in their long-term interest. Reviewing your plan, charting progress to date, and thinking about the steps ahead, can help you stay grounded and focused on moving forward.

It’s also important to reach out to non-financial professionals like therapists, psychologists and parenting mediators as needed to maintain your well-being during your divorce.

I encourage my clients to think of financial planning as a process and not a product. It’s something we do continuously rather than finish once and for all. That’s why it’s important to find a financial advisor committed to help you for the entire journey. It can make financial planning less onerous and more powerful. I am happy to connect with you to discuss your situation and respond to questions you may have. 

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